Denzil Holles's Regiment of Foot

Holles’s regiment was one of the first to be raised by Parliament in the summer of 1642. It was recruited predominantly from London apprentices serving in the butchering and dying trades. Its establishment strength was 1,200 men, exclusive of officers. In early September 1642 the regiment was equipped with red coats.

The regiment, consisting of six companies of foot, left London in early August 1642 and marched into Buckinghamshire, rendezvousing with the regiment raised by John Hampden at Aylesbury on 15 August. It had earlier joined with Colonel Sir Henry Cholmlies' regiment of foot and these three regiments, under the overall command of Sergeant-Major General Thomas Ballard, marched via Buckingham into Warwickshire. They fought a brief skirmish with royalist forces at Southam on 23 August before marching to Coventry and then on to Northampton, where the parliamentarian field army was being formed.

On 1 October 1642 the regiment consisted of 1,130 men, exclusive of officers, in ten companies:

  • Colonel Denzil Holles (Capt Lt Richard Parker)
  • Lieutenant Colonel James Quarles (killed at Brentford)
  • Sergeant Major [Timothy] Neale
  • Captain Alan Povey
  • Captain Richard Lacey (killed at Brentford)
  • Captain George Hurlock
  • Captain John Francis
  • Captain William Bennett (killed at Brentford)
  • Captain William Burles
  • Captain Richard Beaton

Quarles, Parker and Povey had military experience before the Civil War, but the other officers appear to have been civilians. The regiment had a reputation for both godliness and ill-discipline. The godliness was reflected in the soldiers’ dislike of the profanity of regiment’s first Lieutenant Colonel, a military professional called Henry Billingsley, who was cashiered in late August 1642, and, for similar reasons, of Sergeant-Major General Ballard, and in its destruction of the glass pictures and altar rails at Acton church. But it also pillaged widely and one of its soldiers accidentally shot a woman in the head in Great Missenden in mid-August 1642.

The regiment fought at Edgehill where, after initially being run through by fleeing parliamentary cavalry, it fought bravely with losses of around 100 men; at least 18 men were wounded. At Brentford it had three of its company commanders killed and at least 249 men captured. While most of those captured were released, the regiment disappeared from the parliamentarian order of battle following the action at Brentford.